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Techcrunch Interviews: Laugh.ly The Digital Comedy Play

Media Jobs Laugh.ly The Digital Comedy Play

Dave Scott got the idea for Laugh.ly after spend­ing a year doing stand up com­e­dy.  He real­ized how much every­one loves a good laugh and he thought he could be the first one to laugh all the way to the bank for the right rea­sons.  Scott says that 50 mil­lion tick­ets were sold to com­e­dy clubs in 2015 and believes that is an indi­ca­tor of the poten­tial for his busi­ness.

With a sim­i­lar busi­ness mod­el to Spo­ti­fy, a freemi­um option with com­mer­cials and a $7.99 per month option sans com­mer­cials, Laugh.ly will be both an app and a web­site.

But com­e­dy is all about con­text and Dave explains how he will cat­a­log, archive and present his humor in a way that will keep you laugh­ing.  Lis­ten in as Roy Weiss­man of Media Jobs inter­views Dave.

 

 

Roy: This is Roy Weiss­man from Mediajobs.com. We’re talk­ing with Dave Scott, the CEO of Laugh.ly.
Dave: The rea­son I start­ed Laugh.ly was because I actu­al­ly did stand-up com­e­dy for a year. After I sold my last com­pa­ny, I did open mics and then worked my way up to big head­lin­ers and I real­ized how much peo­ple love com­e­dy. In fact, of the 160 peo­ple that actu­al­ly have accounts on Face­book, 91 mil­lion of them actu­al­ly say that stand-up com­e­dy is one of their top five inter­ests. Over 50 mil­lion tick­ets were sold last year to com­e­dy clubs in the Unit­ed States. That means it’s lot of peo­ple who love to laugh, and so what we want­ed to do was to cre­ate a built-from-the-ground-up stream­ing app focused pri­mar­i­ly on stand-up com­e­dy.

 

Roy: A stream­ing app, but isn’t that kind of obvi­ous? What’s the secret sauce here? There’s prob­a­bly a lot of stream­ing com­e­dy shows.

 

Dave: Believe it or not, there’s actu­al­ly not an audio-only stream­ing app for com­e­dy. There are oth­er peo­ple like Pan­do­ra and Spo­ti­fy that do it, but they don’t real­ly ded­i­cate them­selves to it. Just because some­thing works for music does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean it works for spo­ken word. What we’ve done is we’ve built it from the ground up think­ing about spo­ken word in mind. For exam­ple, Pan­do­ra has the Music Genome Project. It basi­cal­ly allows them to research dif­fer­ent tonal­i­ties to deter­mine what songs should go after the next in a radio sta­tion. The prob­lem is is with com­e­dy there is no tone, it’s all con­text to jokes. We’ve built our­selves some unique IP that’s focused around under­stand­ing the joke and the con­text of the joke, so if you want to build a radio sta­tion of just Trump jokes, guess what? You can do it on Laugh.ly.

 

Roy: You have a data­base of jokes, your data is the joke. What else can you do with the data?

 

Dave: Anoth­er thing that we do with it is pro­fan­i­ty fil­ter­ing. Imag­ine that you’re in the car and you’re lis­ten­ing to Kevin Hart and you think he’s fun­ny and then your kids popped in the car. With a flip of a switch, you can flip on pro­fan­i­ty fil­ter­ing and the same radio sta­tion that you were lis­ten­ing to all of a sud­den runs clean. That’s because we have a spe­cif­ic, unique IP that we’ve been devel­op­ing that allows us to be able to under­stand the con­text and the words that are said with­in a joke. That kind of tech­nol­o­gy is not avail­able in music stream­ing web­sites.

 

Roy: When did you found Laugh.ly?

 

Dave: I’ve been work­ing on it since 2013, but it’s been offi­cial­ly found­ed in Feb­ru­ary of this year.

 

Roy: You have how many users?

 

Dave: We have not yet launched, so we’re pre-beta. We’ll be launch­ing offi­cial­ly in the sum­mer time frame.

 

Roy: How do you expect to get the word out, get the dis­tri­b­u­tion?

 

Dave: We have a great rela­tion­ship with the come­di­ans them­selves. Because we actu­al­ly have a rev­enue share with the actu­al artists, we’re hop­ing that they’re going to pro­mote a lot for us. That being said, we have a num­ber of amaz­ing part­ners and a num­ber of great strate­gies to be able to get the word out.

 

What’s real­ly unique about com­e­dy which is dif­fer­ent than music, for exam­ple, is com­e­dy is share­able. Every­one can remem­ber that joke that they remem­ber that’s real­ly fun­ny, the joke that they told at Thanks­giv­ing. Peo­ple love to share laugh­ter and love to share jokes. Music is very per­son­al, it’s not shared in the same way. We’re hop­ing to lever­age that social aspect of com­e­dy to real­ly dri­ve adop­tion.

 

Roy: If I’m lis­ten­ing to com­e­dy, is it divid­ed up into actu­al spe­cif­ic jokes? Can I just send one joke to some­body?

 

Dave: You absolute­ly can. If you’re a real­ly big fan of a Kanye West joke by Aziz Ansari, you could pass that one joke to your bud­dies on Face­book and say, “This is hilar­i­ous. You have to lis­ten to it.” It invites them to lis­ten right there on the app. If you want to take the whole album and rec­om­mend the whole album on Twit­ter, you can rec­om­mend the whole album. If you want to take one playlist, let’s say that you found a playlist that says, “My girl­friend just broke up with me” and it’s a list of jokes that makes some­one feel a lot bet­ter about that sit­u­a­tion, you could pass and for­ward that playlist onto your friends and fam­i­ly or the per­son who just broke up with his girl­friend.

 

Roy: Kind of like with Pan­do­ra, I can make my own joke chan­nel?

 

Dave: You can, absolute­ly, and then share it with all your bud­dies.

 

Roy: Who are some of the come­di­ans that are work­ing with you?

 

Dave: We actu­al­ly have the comedic libraries from over 400 come­di­ans, every­one from Kevin Hart to Bill Cos­by. He’s prob­a­bly not that pop­u­lar to say, so we can maybe say Richard Pry­or. We have the comedic libraries from over 400 come­di­ans, every­one from Kevin Hart to Jeff Fox­wor­thy. The goal is to be able to cre­ate an ecosys­tem of all com­e­dy that’s out there today. For exam­ple, one of the things that we’re launch­ing is a Sound Cloud-like app which allows emerg­ing come­di­ans to upload their own jokes right in the plat­form and begin to mon­e­tize it right away. By being able to do that, we’re going to have, we believe, the largest library of comedic con­tent in the world.

 

Roy: Will I have to pay for these jokes? How is that going to work?

 

Dave: Just like at Spo­ti­fy and Pan­do­ra, there is a free ser­vice which is sup­port­ed by adver­tis­ing rev­enue, but if you don’t want to lis­ten to those pesky adds you can pay $7.99 a month and get access to it com­mer­cial­ly free.

 

Roy: Do you know how many peo­ple access com­e­dy online on a month­ly basis?

 

Dave: We do. We took a look at suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies like Fun­ny or Die, Col­lege Humor, the Chive, the Onion, and oth­er suc­cess­ful com­e­dy apps and they get about 18 to 25 mil­lion unique vis­i­tors a month. We think it’s not unrea­son­able for us to do that with­in the first five years.

 

Roy: You’re expect­ing some­where around 20 to 30 mil­lion users a month?

 

Dave: Yes. Absolute­ly.

 

Roy: How many of those do you think will be pay­ing $7.99?

 

Dave: It’s no sur­prise, it’s pub­lic knowl­edge, with Pan­do­ra it’s around 10% and from what I under­stand from Spo­ti­fy it’s around 25% pay for their pre­mi­um. We hope to get some­where between the 10% and 25%.

 

Roy: Right now, it’s going to be just audio. Do you antic­i­pate video at some point?

 

Dave: It’s inter­est­ing, videos are real­ly crowd­ed space. There’s lots of places to get video right now. Net­flix is doing a real­ly great job with it. Randy Adams from Fun­ny or Die is on our board and Fun­ny or Die does a great job with it. We think that video is cov­ered. What’s not cov­ered is when you’re on that long road trip and you just want to laugh or want to hear a sto­ry or you remem­ber a great joke, there’s no way to get access to that in a mean­ing­ful way. That’s what the prob­lem that we’re here to solve.

 

Roy: This will only be on an app or will it also be on desk­top?

 

Dave: Yeah, we’ll actu­al­ly be avail­able on Android, iOS, both mobile and tablet, as well as desk­top.

 

Roy: You’re going to be launch­ing this sum­mer you said?

 

Dave: Yes, mid-sum­mer, so look out for us. If you want to join the beta ear­ly, you can go to www.laughradio.com and jump on the beta for ear­ly access.

 

Roy: Do envi­sion the busi­ness grow­ing where you’re going to be hir­ing peo­ple?

 

Dave: Absolute­ly. We love engi­neers, we’ll hire as many of them as we can. Also, there’s a real­ly inter­est­ing busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ty here as we think about how to take this tech­nol­o­gy to dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Believe it or not, India has a huge grow­ing come­di­an pop­u­la­tion. We’re already start­ing to work in the UK and Europe where you’ve got great come­di­ans like Ricky Ger­vais, Rus­sell Brand, Stew­art Lee. We think that there’s a real­ly inter­est­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty to help mon­e­tize it as well. We need peo­ple from all over the busi­ness ecosys­tem.

 

Roy: Com­e­dy does­n’t usu­al­ly trav­el, so do you envi­sion sep­a­rate data­bas­es for each coun­try? How do you fig­ure this is going to work?

 

Dave: Yeah, that’s right. You’re right. Aus­tralians love their Aus­tralian comics. The Eng­lish love their Eng­lish comics. Even the Irish love their Irish comics. It’s that polar­ized. We’re going to be build­ing instances for each one of them. Again, come­di­ans can upload their own stuff, so we could actu­al­ly launch this as far and wide as Chi­na and India and let them pop­u­late what they think is fun­ny.

 

Roy: Was there any­thing you want to add? It sounds like it’s an amaz­ing ser­vice. Any­thing you want to add to share with peo­ple?

 

Dave: We’re hav­ing a lot of fun and the whole rea­son why this busi­ness was built was because we’re come­di­an-friend­ly. We love the come­di­ans, we want­ed to see this busi­ness grow, and we love peo­ple that want to apply to the job who love com­e­dy, love come­di­ans, and under­stand that busi­ness and just want to be sup­port­ive of the whole indus­try.

 

Roy: Should it be more engi­neers or busi­ness types? What kind of engi­neer?

 

Dave: We love mobile engi­neers. Front-end engi­neers are always hard to find. We’re devel­op­ing on React, so if you want to get access to the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy we’re a great place for you to be. In the next six months, we’ll be build­ing out the busi­ness por­tion of it as well.

 

Roy: Okay.

 

Dave: Peo­ple with media back­grounds is real­ly, real­ly use­ful.

 

Roy: You’re talk­ing about devel­op­ers?

 

Dave: Yeah, and talk­ing about for busi­ness, so peo­ple who under­stand licens­ing, media and enter­tain­ment, Hol­ly­wood con­nec­tions. All that stuff’s very use­ful.

 

Roy: Fan­tas­tic. Thanks so much for shar­ing. Sounds like we’re going to get a good laugh out of this.

 

Dave: Laugh.ly is the best med­i­cine.

 

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